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The Vatican is a truly awesome place, and Pm not even Catholic. Just to be in the square and view the archecture is absolutely inspiring. The tour guide pointed out the window of the Pope's bedroom, the balcony he uses to speak to the audience, the Swiss Guards, etc. There are a double row of columns which arch around about half of the square and if you stand in the right spot (center-most) you can view the columns from one end to the other and see only those columns nearest to the square as they completely hide the second row of columns. They are lined up that perfectly.

Inside, we walked through one corrider after another, each displaying gifts from countries around the world. There were art objects in gold, silver, ivory, jade, etc. with diamonds and other precious jewels, each object displayed in a glass case and each item probably valued high enough to feed a small country for years. I have never imagined such wealth existed. And each object beautiful beyond imagination. Just when we though we had seen it all, we would turn the corner and there was another hail that seemed to be a city block long with display cases on either side. And tapestries done in needle point that covered walls from ceiling to floor. It all has to be seen to be believed.

And then there was the Sistine Chapel where Michelangelo painted all the fingures in the nude until he was told that was inappropriate and he had to go back and give them all clothes (well, drapes at least). He painted the ceiling, laying on his back on the scaffoling.

We are so used to seeing the dull colors in the Sistine Chapel, that it had never occurred to us that the dullness was the result of years of the smoke from candles and insence. In addition, the precious ceiling is beginning to crack and fall apart. According to our guide, the Japanese had contracted to repair and clean the chappel for the exclusive rights of all pictures and photographs. They had akeady started the process and the colors are bright and beautiful, under all that dirt, but some people, we were told, are so used to the dull colors that they are sad to see the muriels cleaned up. The project, however, should be completed in about ten years and all of us vowed we would return at that time to see the final product.

The bassillica is also an experience in itself. We saw the Pieta, which is now protected behind a plexiglass sheet which inevitably gives off reflections from all the lights and therefore, does not give one a good view. This was necessary after a deranged man attacked the statue with a knife and chipped it a few years ago.

One last interesting note: in the center of the bassillica is the faniilliar
which sits over the tomb of . The canope over the tomb
is supported by four hugh brass spiraled columns. We were told that those brass columns

were from the brass, removed from the Colosieum, which had supported and secured the marble exterior. The marble, also was used in the building of the Vatican. Interesting, considering the number of horrendous murders that were committed there in the name of

entertainment. And the brass and marble, now gone from the Colosieum, is to be found in the Vatican.